Facebook is going to start showing you longer videos

Remember the days when we talked about how Facebook and Snapchat are competing for these things called views? Yes, we cared about the overall number of three-seconds versus one-millisecond of time people spent on the apps.

Forget about those meager numbers. Facebook wants your eyes to be glued for much longer than three seconds. Why? Television has more dollars.

On Thursday, Facebook announced longer videos watched through will be given a higher priority in the ranking of the News Feed. Hidden within a jargon-filled, 411-word News Feed FYI (a blog dedicated to publishers and other Facebook Page owners), Facebook shared a change to the algorithm that addresses completion rate:

As we continue to understand how our community consumes video, we’ve realized that we should therefore weight percent completion more heavily the longer a video is, to avoid penalizing longer videos.

So it’s not just about those casual moments; those six-second (RIP Vine) puppy videos. It’s about you essentially experiencing television when you’re on News Feed. That’s not unlike YouTube, which categorizes video based on watch time.

Curiously, the announcement comes just hours before Alphabet, Google’s parent company and the owner of YouTube, announces its fourth quarter and full year of 2016 earnings.

The complexities of Facebook’s algorithm are still a mystery. The post emphasized the fact that before completion rate was integrated into the quality filter, it did not significantly address, at least to Facebook’s eyes, differences in video lengths.

It’s not like you’ll stop seeing short videos. Facebook, which has somewhat embraced a role as a media company as of late, advised that longer video doesn’t necessarily mean better. “The best length for a video is whatever length is required to tell a compelling story that engages people, which is likely to vary depending on the story you’re telling,” Facebook wrote in the blog post.

And if you’re a Facebook user or publisher missing “snackable” content, the company is also offering short-form videos on Instagram, limited to 60 seconds, Instagram Stories and now Facebook Stories.

So why the change? It pretty much comes down to money.

Facebook and YouTube are both after premium content that they can then combine with advertising. YouTube offers pre-roll ads, while Facebook is testing mid-roll ads. These ads only appear after 90 seconds, and therefore, Facebook is subtly reminding publishers that in order to earn money their videos need to be longer.

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